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New Season, Old Stories

If we learned one thing this week in Minnesota, it’s that if you wait long enough something’s gotta give. Spring arrived this week and the air nearly sizzles with wet and warmth and life. As it always is, something had to happen eventually.

Everywhere except Congress, of course.

But aside from the entertainment we get from “leaders”, there are other sources of news. Here are three stories Barataria has been all over which had interesting developments in the last week.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has always been a good newsmaker, but he hasn’t gotten much attention lately as we all wait his new encyclical on the environment. Given the church calendar, it probably has to wait until after Easter at this point.

But there have been a few rumblings about what we can expect from it. Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the apparent main author of the encyclical, had a few hints. He explained that the new work will build on the previous work, Evengelii Gaudium, which directed the faithful to work for an economy based on people, not money.

It will “explore the relationship between care for creation, integral human development and concern for the poor,” according to the cardinal. The Pope will seek to bring the “warmth of hope” to the wider debates on climate change and development, he said, while steering a path away from the “Herods” and “omens of destruction and death.”

The Pope himself did say something interesting while visiting his native Argentina. Noting that they have an election this year, he said “In the financing of electoral campaigns, many interests get into the mix, and then they send you the bill.” His solution? “Perhaps public financing would allow me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money. Everything needs to be transparent and clean.”

Not quite throwing the money changers out of the Temple, but close.

The image that launched "Texts from Hillary".  She's at her best looking bad-assed.

The image that launched “Texts from Hillary”. She’s at her best looking bad-assed.

Speaking of money for campaigns, Hillary Clinton’s email server is an issue that won’t go away. This is bad news for Sec. Clinton, of course, but the path that we took to get here is fascinating. We can never forget that this is a mutation of the Benghazi Committee which is chasing down every single communication she ever wrote or received, waiting to comb over all of them for …. well, just about anything.

The problem with this story, if you’re Clinton, is that it won’t go away. It won’t go away because there are actually very serious issues with State Department material placed on an insecure server, clintonemail.com, which hackers are now circling.

Of course, all of this attention comes to her as a challenge to her presidential inevitability, which Republicans and more than a few Democrats are eager to torpedo. Is it a big scandal? Of course not, but everything involving the heir-apparent is a big deal. Just ask Prince Charles.

The problem for Clinton is, as it was in 2007 or so, her inevitability. Her ability to manage it in 2015 is not much better than it was eight years ago because she has not been able to make this go away. Consider this her first big test of the campaign – and so far she isn’t exactly passing. But, as we all know, time passes and so may she one day.

We could say “stay tuned to Hillary,” but you probably have no choice but to do so.

ISIL on the march.  Yes, these monsters must be stopped.

ISIL on the march. Yes, these monsters must be stopped.

The last story is a strange one that perfectly illustrates why the key to evaluating the flood of information on the ‘net is to seek the source of the information you are presented with. This is a story that requires some explaination, so bear with us.

Among conspiracy minded people on the far left and right, the ISIL/ISIS/IS/Daesh story is one that the US and perhaps Israel created. Given that the US has inserted itself back into the Middle East and chaos has ensued, Yankee Imperialism(tm) has been the clear victor so far in the whole fracas. The Hinsight Conspiracy types have long looked for a clear connection between the rogue group and shadowy agents with an interest in chaos.

That may sound utterly ridiculous to you, and it is to most people. But many sites on the extreme recently ran with a story that Iraqi militia had captured CIA and Mossad (Israeli intellegence) agents when they over-ran an ISIL position. It was a short story without a lot of detail that fed directly into the conspiracy theorists’ darkest beliefs.

Where did it come from? The version of it with the earliest publication date (7 March) is on the website of Tasnim News Agency, which is run by the government of Iran. It says that it got the story from “Sama News Agency” in Iraq – but there is no record of any such news organization anywhere. It may exist, but it has left no fingerprints on the ‘net so far. There is not even another article or wikipedia entry mentioning it.

So what is the original source for this story? Apparently, there is none. It appears that the conspiracy theorists are being fed directly by the Iranian propaganda machine – which is happily giving them just what they want.

Seek the original source, everyone.  For a clear, cold drink of truth there is no substitute.

These are just three stories that seemed to deserve an update as the northern hemisphere slowly drips its way towards Spring. There may be more updates worth reporting, but they make for a light update on a day when we’d all rather be outside.

If you like this blog, please vote Barataria “Best Weblog About Politics” in the 2015 Bloggies.  It only takes a few minutes.  Thank you!

28 thoughts on “New Season, Old Stories

  1. Pope Francis, render to Cesar.
    Hillary, what if you were a Republican?
    Iran, Barataria’s critical thinking is a weapon of mass revelation.

  2. I guess my only question would be, “Was it the clear intention of Hillary Clinton to use her person email to address State Department correspondence and why?”

    • A good one. We really don’t know yet just what she was doing. It seems to be a matter of convenience more than anything, but it seems pretty strange all around.

      • The key for her to “manage inevitability” (a phrase I’m trying to get to catch on!) is managing the scrutiny that every little thing is going to get. This one was totally botched, IMHO, even if there is nothing at the heart of it. She looks bad.

      • Nice phrase😃 it seems there will need to be someone to monitor little things like that before it derails her attempt. As you said, she has to “manage inevitability.”

  3. I photographed an anti-ISIS demonstration. There was a counter demonstration at the same time and place. Where some people attacked the US for, both, yes both, intervening and not intervening. The activists also tried to argue the retrospective (Iraq) and corporate grab for oil for the intervention, but I asked (in October), ‘if the intervention is for oil, why not 6-12 months ago?’.

    I covered an Alan Henning memorial service and decided a world without IS/ISIL/ISIS/Desh would be a better world.

    As regards Clinton, you’re right it isn’t such a big deal, but I disagree with her being an heir-apparent, like Prince Charles. The most obvious difference is that the Democrat party have to nominate her and, then, people will have to vote her in to office. Its not like she the ‘right’ parents for the job (even making this point with the Bush sons, even if fairer, is tenuous).

    As regards, reporting, you are allowed to quote other news publications – eg ‘it happens all the time’, one journalist said to a journalist working for a different publication. The usual quoted news sources are the news wire services like Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Reuters (in the UK, Press Association as well) – the others, like Alamy, Corbis, Getty Images, Rex Features, are only stock agencies with an editorial feed (sometimes, smaller agencies like Demotix and NurPhoto in to Corbis). Quite a lot of breaking/news reports have lines like ‘according to the _ news agency’. Corbis is a little different, due to a lot of agencies feeding in to them (Demotix, EPA, NurPhoto and Reuters are the ones I’m aware of). AFP feed in to Getty.*

    However, all that said, journalists don’t *have* to name their sources. Although, this is usually reserved as an acceptable practice in investigative reporting (used as a protection for the identity sources, rather than protecting a journalist’s laziness). Sometimes articles run close to the press release (or a rejigging from ‘this is going to happen’ to ‘this happened’).

    *Editorial photography is different to plain stock photography and image usage is very different, but all of my editorial photography is held by Corbis with a stock photo link eg http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/42-62432386/prayer-vigil-held-for-isil-hostage-alan.

    • There are reasonable differences of opinion on ISIL and what we should do about it, for sure. But to say we are actively advising them while we bomb? That seems to me to require extraordinary proof – and none has been presented yet.
      You don’t like comparing Hillary to Charles? 🙂 It was silly, I admit. The Democratic establishment has been treating her like him – both for good and bad – IMHO.
      As for sources – I think bloggers absolutely need them since they are not doing original reporting in the field.

      • I think I should loosen up a little and not take blogs so literally.

        I wasn’t supporting the blog which you were criticising, but merely adding a different perspective. IMHO, I just don’t know. Why anyone would support them, is a different conversation, though.

        About ‘needing sources’ – I reported http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/42-63849922/national-health-service-safe-under-ttip – someone tweeted “with everything I know, I find this a barely credible story” to which I replied: “I am allowed to report what was said at the forum.”

      • Reporting what is said at a forum makes you a primary source. 🙂 The quality of what is said is one piece of potential news, that it was said by a particular bureaucrat is another.
        I try to be pretty loose about these things that are clearly opinion, but there is still a place for truth in the world – I hope!

  4. There is no tool like the denier and obfuscation tool/fool!

    Really, what is it that you people have to see to understand what is going on here?

    Debunk this.

    Click to access USArmy-InternmentResettlement.pdf

    Leaked Document: Military Internment Camps in US to be Used for Political Dissidents
    04.Mar.2013 | SCG

    The contents are of a Department of Defense document entitled “INTERNMENT AND RESETTLEMENT OPERATIONS” or FM 3-39.40.

    The document is 325 pages long and is signed by JOYCE E. MORROW Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. It was created in 2010 however it has just recently been leaked to the public via the internet and can now be downloaded from multiple sources. In the description below you will find a download link for the document. I encourage you to download it yourself and verify everything that is being said here.

    The document outlines military procedures for internment and resettlement of civilians and it describes the layout and administration of interment camps. It clearly states on page 38 that it applies within U.S. territory and specifically addresses the detainment of U.S. citizens as is indicated by the identification procedures for new prisoners on page 146 which states that social security numbers are to be recorded along side their photograph and fingerprints. Included in the list of organizations which may be involved in these internment operations are the Department of Homeland Security, the FEMA, the Department of Defense and the United Nations.

    On page 56 the document outlines the responsibilities of Psychological Operations officers within the camps among which it states that a Psyop officer “Develops and executes indoctrination programs to reduce or remove antagonistic attitudes. and Identifies political activists.” On page 281 the document goes into more detail regarding the role Psychological

    Operations within the camps specifically in regards to pacifying the population and insuring cooperation.

    On page 238 it gives the conditions for the use of deadly force in such camps, among the justifications for lethal force it includes to “terminate an active escape attempt”. That point right there should make it clear that these camps are not benevolent disaster relief type facilities.

    On page 244 the document calls for the use of snipers during riots to quote “scan a crowd and identify agitators and riot leaders for apprehension and fire lethal rounds if warranted”.

    On page 260 it shows the basic layout for a facility focusing on detainment. It is depicted with interrogation areas, tribunal areas and mortuaries. Each detainment facility is designed to hold 4000 prisoners and they are depicted with multiple levels of barbed wire separating compartments within the facilities with a double barbed wire fence enclosing them and 24 guard towers.

    On page 261 it depicts the layout for what they call civilian resettlement facilities, which are designed to house 8,000 people. And though it uses the word resettlement the plans show multiple levels of barbed wire dividing the sections of the facility and double barbed wire fencing on the outside as well as 16 guard towers.

    On page 262 the layout for facilities designed for what they call non-compliant prisoners is shown. These camps are designed to hold up to 300 prisoners, they have 3 interrogation centers and are guarded by 13 guard towers.

    Now if there is any question whether these plans are active or are just theoretical this should settled by the fact that the U.S. army has been running ads for job positions in these camps since 2009 and apparently they are still hiring.


    If you look in the description you’ll find all the links you need to verify this information.
    It’s important to note here that this document was created in 2010, which was under the Obama administration, and it predates the NDAA of 2012 which authorized military detainment of U.S. citizens. This clearly shows a long term agenda at work.

    here is the Army’s response when an inquiry was made… I feel so much better now!

    Mr. Thomas,
    Here is the response from Fort Leonard Wood regarding your questions.
    The document was not intended for public release. The document is intended for operations outside of the continental United States. Depending on the nature and magnitude of an event will determine the level of U.S. military involvement. Any other questions regarding the document, you will need to file a FOIA request.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions.
    Thank you, Tiffany
    Tiffany Wood, Director, Public Affairs Office Fort Leonard Wood, MO”

    • You have an original document, which is good. And like many such thing, it contains some eye-opening parts to worry about. Military documents are hard to come by, as they are classified, and we also don’t have a solid budget to compare operations costs to and see what’s really going on. They deserve a lot more scrutiny.
      So yes, by all means, use the original source! But that has nothing to say to my point, which is that we are almost certainly not sending advisors to ISIL right now. That point says nothing about what awful things our military and/or CIA might be doing elsewhere, however.

    • Which can be used to find something that is possible, but not prove that it is true. Generalization from one observation is the tool of a large number of cranks and crazies in the world – and quite frankly the source of nearly all evil including racism, sexism, etc.

  5. The problem is that the way they have gone after Obama is not really that different than the way they went after Bill Clinton and they will go after Hillary that way too. They will start now and keep it up no matter what. It is all they have.

  6. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. I try to stay abreast of what’s happening but that is almost impossible; either in that there is SO MUCH happening all over the world, country’s leaders changing at hyper speed, forcing the fall of old “regimes” as new ones rise before the dust even settles. Heck, even the names of counties and reigning powers change so fast I can’t keep up with them.
    And then, what to believe. (You covered this in your conspiracy theories coverage.)
    Gotta run. I will follow you and read all this when I can. I do think politics are amazing, if not deceitful.

    • Politics is everywhere in the sense that different points of view jostle for attention in all aspects of life. Decisions have to be made or else we are stalemated. Your view of politics will be your idea of progress in your head. Ideology combined with a strictly whatever works point of view (pragmatism, empirical). Like we can’t argue whether sewer systems violate individual rights forever.

      Even the author of Barataria is political within the blog itself. He pays attention to how many are looking at he website. More readers is his barometer of support. He is a liberal but he doesn’t want to totally alienate the conservatives. He loves to tweak Republicans. And hardly anyone can stand to his left. That is to be expected since a blog is an opinion page backed with some analysis and argumentation. And in his comment section he often says things to mollify and add comity, while still expressing his viewpoint.

      • Politics is “The art and science of human interaction.” It is indeed everywhere, and often specific, ie “office politics”, “gender politics”, etc.
        I am a liberal in the sense that I believe that all politics and economics should be in the service and concern of people – not power or money for their own sake. But that doesn’t mean that conservatives aren’t right sometimes about the best way to serve people and make things happen. I love a good argument about these things and I do love being proved wrong because my arguments improve – there is no better way to become smarter.
        More than anything, I believe in being respectful of other people and when they express themselves I want to acknowledge it and thank them.
        Yes, more readers is a good thing to me. I hope to get more pay doing this kind of thing. 🙂

  7. How come we never discuss Patriarch Bartholmew of Constantinople. Do you have a Pope fetish.

    Equal time for Bart!!

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